At some point I did begin the series, “Putting Up My Wainscot” which is really more than that, it’s also producing my wainscot so I can put it up there. For the most part that has been dimensioning and planing some stock material I have on hand with a number of plane set-ups like for instance a hollowing plane
and rabbet plane though personally I prefer the name that the Dutch in my area use and call it, sponningschaf
also the one I took and take the least pleasure in using when it comes to this work, that combination plane.
And that one got me the groves in the sides of the planks for splines, saving me wood by eliminating the tung which would otherwise come at the expense of visible surface wood and the effective width.
The one plane I didn’t mention until now is my old Norwegian moulding plane with that sweet profile. Really, it was the inspiration for the whole of this work and so you can imagine the damper it put on my working enthusiasm – something in need of constant guarding – when I found that the iron was far to soft to hold up planing oak. I can presume this plane out of Norwegian Scandinavia was made with the intension it would be put to use on soft quarter sawn spruce and not this unruly tough old oak.
Changing the bevel angle helped some but not enough, still to weak an edge on there. Then I mailed the iron down to the smid and he got in back into my grubby hands in good time but it was hardly any better and so in a desperate attempt I stuck it in the fire myself and quenched it in oil, that being safer than water when the precise nature of the steel being treated is not known. After that I noticed a bit of a change. It held a reasonable edge but even when I reconditioned the plane’s soul the results left me with thoughts of picking up the router, yes it was that bad.
Story of the Mellemas of Oostrum, Friesland
The Mellema clan had been in this village for 300 years and maybe for the last two hundred of them in this house. This was the carpenter workshop for the village before the family experienced their decline in the face of the growth of the post WWII Nazi collaborationist Visser family carpentry business which thrives on putting up tin cow sheds to this day. Unfortunately for me, when they packed up and left the family gave away most of the stuff that the old Mellema still had and from what I understand that was a bunch of stuff of every kind. You can imagine that with so much stuff some of it just got left behind and so I inherited a few insignificant tools and things to include a bundle of moulding plane irons, which brings us back to my wainscot work. With the one iron that was a reasonable match in size in hand I went to my metal shop, the old horse stall, and fixed myself up a reasonable replacement iron and after that was able to get on with the work at hand.
Don’t get me wrong, this plane is a primitive tool and getting put to use in a way it was not made for and probably more sense was called for when I was making some initial decisions about the commencement of work on this wainscot, which is to say I feel the protests of the old Norwegian plane when I am at work even with the new iron. Still, better than having that thing collect dust up there in the shelf.